Integrative Acupuncture has been fortunate to partner with experienced Acupuncture Fertility Specialist, Zizi Zolten-Chandler for the past 4 years. During her work at IA, Zizi has assisted many, many people in conception and pregnancy using natural therapies like acupuncture and herbs. Zizi was inspired to continue her education and achieve additional certification as a specialist in acupuncture fertility medicine, making her the first to complete this rigorous advanced certification in Vermont! We sat down with Zizi between patients to hear about her journey.
How did you get into Acupuncture?
Before studying East Asian medicine, I was a patient. The treatments that I received were effective and I saw extensive benefits beyond what had originally brought me in for treatment. I was inspired to study at the Traditional Chinese Medical College of Hawaii (now The Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) where I completed an intensive four year Master of Science degree in East Asian [O]Medicine. I have been a Board Certified Licensed Acupuncturist since 2002.
Zizi (Jessica) Zolten-Chandler
MSOM, LAc, DiplAc, FABORM, Licensed Acupuncturist, Board Certified Acupuncture Fertility Specialist
Why do you specialize in Fertility Medicine?
I am a Fellow of the Acupuncture and TCM Board of Reproductive Medicine (ABORM). My passion for fertility acupuncture/ reproductive medicine grew out of my own experience with infertility and pregnancy loss, which was a source of great suffering. Every person’s experience with infertility and/or loss is unique but for most it’s a path that necessitates a lot of courage and strength and I think this first hand experience informs my work. I care deeply for my patients and want nothing more than to help them reach their goals.
Can Acupuncture help someone get pregnant?
I think East Asian Medicine plays a very important role in pre-conception care. This includes people who are trying to conceive both with or without ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology), like IUI and IVF. There is excellent research that’s looked at the mechanisms of acupuncture, exhibiting measurable changes in blood flow to the organs responsible for reproduction (Stener-Victorin et al, 1996; Stener-Victorin et al, 2006). Other studies have examined the role of acupuncture needle stimulation of nerve fibers which carry electrical impulses back to the brain and the release of neurotransmitters like endorphins reducing the stress and anxiety of IVF (Isoyama et al, 2012; Balk et al, 2010).
While no treatment is effective for everyone, in my clinical experience, fertility acupuncture has been a very important piece of the puzzle for many patients.
How Do Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine complement IUI and IVF therapies?
East Asian Fertility Medicine and Assisted Reproductive Technology are very different but they share the same goal, hence they have the capacity to complement and support one another. In addition to what I’ve already shared about stress reduction and blood flow to the reproductive organs, acupuncture is a very effective treatment to help reduce the side effects some people experience with medication as they prepare for IVF retrieval or transfer. This includes but is not limited to breast tenderness, nausea, mood changes, headaches, hot flashes, bloating, constipation, fatigue, stress and anxiety. You name it, there’s an acupuncture point for it.
How many treatments might I need?
Sometimes we just treat patients on the day of their embryo transfer, often both before and after their transfer. I personally think that an ideal treatment plan includes a series of treatments, ideally once per week for approximately 9 to 12 visits. This allows a patients to receive treatment through at least 2 to 3 menstrual cycles and/or prepare for IVF as acupuncture has a cumulative effect. This schedule doesn’t work for everyone and no matter how often someone can come for treatment, there are always effective strategies. I meet people where they are. More often than not, these patients continue to come for pre-natal acupuncture treatments to help with pregnancy induced nausea, constipation, heartburn, low back pain, hip pain and more.